FitzGerald's American Music Festival: Marcia Ball Band, Honey Island Swamp Band, Dale Watson, Glen David Andrews, and others | FitzGerald’s | Fairs & Festivals | Chicago Reader
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Dale Watson

Dale Watson

Sarah Wilson

FitzGerald's American Music Festival: Marcia Ball Band, Honey Island Swamp Band, Dale Watson, Glen David Andrews, and others Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., July 4, 11 a.m. 2015
Price: $35, $100 four-day pass
It’s not just the silvery gray in the thick pompadour atop Dale Watson’s dome that indicates he’s no longer the honky-tonk upstart who broke onto the scene in the early 90s singing, “I’m too country now for country / Just like Johnny Cash / Help me, Merle / I’m breaking out in a Nashville rash.” Two decades and nearly as many albums later he’s become an institution unto himself by melding the woozy balladry of 70s country with Texas outlaw modes and touching it with a dab of Bakersfield twang. Watson appears on the Grand Ole Opry on July 8 and recently performed on an episode of The Bachelorette, and though he pulls no surprises on the new Call Me Insane (Red House), he has lost some bite. A salute to the Possum, “Jonesin’ for Jones,” is little more than a patchwork of quotations, while “Hot Dang” is more hollow sugar rush than the expression of romantic giddiness it seeks to be. The obsessive sentiment of “Bug Ya for Love” might’ve been OK in the 50s, but now it sounds like creepy stalking rather than devotion (“You better get used to seeing my face / It’s gonna keep showing up”). The title track, which borrows part of its melody from Tim Hardin’s “If I Were a Carpenter,” works better because it directs the narrator’s neurosis inward. But Watson shouldn’t be judged by his latest record—his burnished croon stands alone, his songbook is strong and deep, and he’s got the kind of look and presence that’s a lost art among modern country singers. —Peter Margasak See our FitzGerald's American Music Festival sidebar.

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